I wrote this email to a friend earlier this year when he asked why, when two people stand together in a photo but one stands further back, is one in focus and one a bit blurry. It’s a classic struggle for photographers who are taking candid photos. I thought the explanation/tutorial was useful enough to share here. I’m only the 28,878th photographer to write a blog post about understanding aperture, but I may be the first to use Dairy Queen Blizzard cups.
Photographers smarter than me have better explanations for how this works, but if you look at all four of these images you’ll see how aperture and distance work. The cups were about four inches apart (different focal planes). Imagine they are people to make this more relevant. 😁 Manually trying to change the focus on any of these only changes the spot the camera is focusing on, it can’t bring both into focus (because physics).
So, basically, when taking photos of groups of people that are not lined up next to each other, you should move back, switch to a higher aperture (f/8, f/12, etc.) and hope there’s enough light to make it all work.
I purchased my Nikon Z-6 in November 2019, and in hindsight I wished I’d pulled the trigger sooner. It’s had a marked improvement on my photography, namely due to the in-body image stabilization. To be blunt, it was a technology I needed for quite some time* as I usually shoot with prime lenses that lack stabilization. I was exceedingly grumpy with Nikon for not following Sony, Panasonic, and every other camera OEM’s lead (other than Canon) but I bought the non-stabilized D750 anyway. I swore though my next camera would have it. <shakes fist at sky>
This isn’t a review of the Nikon Z-6 though. What’s that? You want my review of the Z-6? It’s great, though I wish it had two memory cards slots instead of one QXD card slot. Buy it if you have an investment in Nikon lenses. If you don’t, look really hard at the Sony Alpha a7 III. I’d have probably gone with the Sony if I didn’t have my Nikkor f/2.8 lenses; I just can’t justify replacing them with equivalent Sony lenses. 💸
Last night I took my Pixel 3 XL out Halloween trick or treating with my kids and decided to see how well it handled real-world low-light conditions. This is without the forthcoming Night Sight, which by all accounts is extremely impressive. The images below are shot in regular camera mode, JPEG (I completely forgot about the raw mode option) with post-processing done in Lightroom. Lightroom noise reduction was not used on any photo. I could have posted the unretouched photos, but I always do some sort of post processing, either on my phone or on my computer, so this is real-world for me. I’ve also added some additional analysis on each photo for those that are curious, and linked to the full-sized JPEG (most are somewhat cropped, so none are original size).
The TLDR version? This Pixel 3 is the best camera I’ve ever used in a smartphone, and it has impressive optical image stabilization. It’s still a tiny sensor and subject to the same laws of physics as any other phone though, so it can’t work miracles. I’m generally impressed with how well it holds up at high ISOs that would make many phone images fall apart.
Above: this scene was quite dimly lit, despite what the adjusted image looks like, and is reasonably sharp given the camera was shooting at 1/15th of a second (which is below what I can properly hand-hold at without stabilization). It had to push to ISO 2728 though, which is why the cloth robe is noisy mush. It’s an OK picture if you don’t look too closely at the robe because other elements look decent.Continue reading Pixel 3 XL Halloween Photos
In October 2017 I was invited to provide social media support for The Summit, an event put on by AT&T Business. Part of that event was world-class entertainment: the smaller entertainment event was a live show by Darius Rucker (yep, the “Hootie and the Blowfish Guy”) at the Glass Cactus in Texas. The larger event was none other than Aerosmith. Honestly, I was more excited to see Darius Rucker than Aerosmith because I never saw Darius perform live during his “Hootie” days! I’d seen Aerosmith in their prime during the 1990 “Pump” tour and…wait, that was 28 years ago? ? Thank you Wikipedia for reminding me I am getting old. ?
Below are my photos from the Rucker show – along with 20 minutes of live concert footage.
A few words about the video: on one hand I’m stunned at how amazing my Nikon D750 is at capturing videos when paired with a tasty f/2.8 lens (the original video looks better than what YouTube does to it). On the other hand without a tripod it was extremely hard to get a video with smooth pans and zooms – so pardon the sections where it looks like I was getting shoved – that’s just me trying to zoom in/out while freeholding a huge lens and camera. ? During the stable bits I am proud of how this turned out (along with my Final Cut Pro edits and colour tweaks). Can’t say much for the audio as that’s just the on-camera mic, but it’s passable (when it’s not clipping).
Back to Rucker: his voice is every bit as powerful as you remember, and since I actually enjoy country music now (something my 20 year-old self would be shocked at) I rocked out with his new music. It was also a great photography workout: I’d brought THE BEAST (my 70-200mm Nikkor f/2.8 lens) specifically to shoot the music concerts. I didn’t drag that heavy thing all the way across the country to not use it!
I call this photo “David vs. Goliath”: that’s the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird (5 foot 9) going up against the Mercury Phoenix’s Brittney Griner (6 foot 9). ?
I had the pleasure of attending my first WNBA basketball game in August of last year, and it was a fun experience for my whole family. And while I was pretty far from the action, having my Nikkor 70-200mm lens and Nikon D750 24 megapixels to crop from let me capture some pretty cool photos. And for being my first WNBA basketball game, I’m happy with how most of them turned out.
I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom since 1.0, and I’ve evolved a workflow that adapts to some of the limitations in both Lightroom and local storage. I use Lightroom for active photo shoots only, meaning that being able to archive my albums is critical. My workflow looks like this (what does yours look like? post in the comments):
Import photos + videos off memory card into new album
Edit photos in Lightroom (first pass culling + develop remaining photos + second pass culling + final development tweaks)
Export photos as 80% quality JPEGS, export videos as original quality
Export album as catalog + delete album from Lightroom
Put catalog onto Synology NAS (which is then backed up in multiple places)
Adobe recently shook up the photography world by releasing a brand new cloud-centric version of Lightroom called Lightroom CC, and re-naming what we knew as Lightroom to Lightroom Classic CC. They added some performance enhancements to Lightroom Classic, which are greatly appreciated, but otherwise didn’t add any new features. That’s a bit frustrating given we pay a monthly fee to Adobe that we presume goes into improving the product.
I had an opportunity to take photos of feeding hummingbirds this summer when we stopped over for the night in Trail, BC. It was the single hardest photo subject I’ve ever had – hummingbirds are so small, and move so fast, it was extremely difficult to get a focus lock and take a photo. Most of the time the bird would leave the frame before my camera could get a lock. I must have shot 60 frames just to get these four. I had to learn to hear their incoming buzz – they sound like small helicopters – and guess/hope where they’d be. I didn’t have a tripod or a shutter release so I couldn’t set up a “proper” shoot, but it was still fun trying to capture just the right moment. And if there’s one argument for 50 megapixel cameras, it’s this: being forced to crop so much leaves few pixels left. The source photos after processing are only 3.5 to 3.9 megapixels in size, so no giant wall prints for these photos. ?